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Istanbul Princes' Islands



Princes' Islands are popular destinations for day trips from Istanbul. The only transport is by horse and cart on the Islands. They are incredibly peaceful compared with the city of Istanbul. They are just a short ferry ride from both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. In spring and autumn the islands are quieter and more pleasant. However the sea can be rough in late autumn and winter.

During the Byzantine period, prince and other royalty were exiled on the islands, and later members of the Ottoman sultans family were exiled there too, lending the islands their present name. During the 19th century the islands became a popular resort for Istanbul's wealthy. Victorian era cottages and houses are still preserved on the largest of the Princes' islands, Buyukada.

Visitors can take the 'small tour' of the island by buggy, leading to the valley between the two hills with the church and monastery of Ayios Nikolaos and a former fairground called Luna Park, from where it is an easy climb to Ayia Yorgi, a tiny church with a cafe on the grounds serving wine, chips and sausage sandwiches, this being part of the "classic" Ayia Yorgi (St. George) experience. I strongly recommend the special homemade red wine of the church, with the excellent view on the top of the hill.

We preferred walking. We took a forest way behind the narrow and steep streets between the houses and walked to the Nizam Bay. Then we walked to the south of the Island. We saw many horses around walking and eating grass freely. Then we walked to Luna Park and climbed St. George Hill.

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